Has Someone Sit on Your Cake?

“A bad review is like baking a cake with all the best ingredients and having someone sit on it.”–Danielle Steel

Baby Sitting on Wedding Cake

I was never one to write reviews for books until it became easy. (I love technology!) There was a time when there were very few places to write a review or I probably would have. I know that because I was very good about writing reviews on waiters in restaurants or in hotels when there was a form to fill out. Now we live in an age where you can write reviews for anything and everything and it only takes a few minutes. So, do you take he time to do that?

Let’s talk specifically about books because after all that’s what I do, write books. Now, I write reviews, or at least give them a rating, for almost every book I finish reading. I say that, because I tend to only write reviews if I can say something positive and if I really don’t like a book I’m reading, I won’t finish it. That’s a more recent behavior because I used to finish everything I started. I just had to see it to the end no matter how much I hated it. Now that I’m in my autumn (or at least late summer) years of my life, I’ve learned I don’t have to do that. I choose to spend my time doing things I enjoy. But back to the review part…I’m much better about writing them than I used to be. Some of that I’m sure is because I appreciate whenever someone takes the time to write a review for my books.

I know how important the reviews are to authors, but how much are those reviews worth to readers? As a reader, do you buy books based on the reviews? Do you even read them? And when you write one, why do you do it?

Some authors read their reviews, others choose not to. I read all of mine. I try to learn from the negative ones, and I’m motivated by the positive ones. I have well over 1400 combined reviews for my books and they all average around 4.5, but sometimes I wonder if the readers are reading the same book. I understand people have different tastes and I’m good with that. But I had a review that said she was upset because the book had less than 150 pages. Another reader said he was overwhelmed because the book had over 600 pages. This was for the same book! The book actually has around 300 paperback pages. Now I realize you can change the font if you’re reading on a digital device, but that’s a bit of an extreme range.

And then there are those that just make me laugh. Like this one, for example:

It was a 3 star review.

I purchased this kindle book because it sounded like something I enjoy reading and it was Free on Book Bub. I have purchased many books and I haven’t had time to read them all yet and this is one that I have not read yet (hence just an okay rating). When I get around to reading it, I will try to remember to come back and update my post.

Can anyone tell me why someone would post such a review? I just don’t get it. Another reader apparently couldn’t leave it alone. He or she responded:

What a ridiculous waste of time for you to post this “review.” How could you give the book a rating when you haven’t even read it?

Then there is this 1 star review for The Advocate:

 There was far too much detailed sex. Had I known it was “R” rated due to sex, I never would have read it. As it is, I skipped over many pages due to the sexual material. I won’t read any more of her books. However, if you like that type of material, you’d probably like the book. Story line was good.

FYI: This book had NO sex in it, not even a kiss. There was no relationship, no romance, nothing, zip, nada, zilch! I can only guess that the review was placed on the wrong book…or someone stole my cover and put it on a “smut” book. Hmmm…

And then there’s the spoiler:

I love this book….this book was very thrilling until the bitter end I would have never thought it was ______ that did the killing. 

I removed the name above and replaced it with the blank. She gave me 5 stars. You gotta love her! Of course, no one else has to read the book now because they know “whodunit.”

And one of my favorites:

I felt relief at the end, knowing I wasn’t going to have to pick up this book again.

What does that even mean? It was a 3-star review. I would expect a 1-star with that statement or perhaps a 5-star if you want to put a really positive spin on that statement…Like I wore her out with all my suspense and twists and turns. But a 3-star? Go figure.

Readers, authors really appreciate reviews. Write them when you read a book you like because it will encourage the author to write more books. I want to thank all of you who have written a review for me. I understand not everyone has the time or the interest in writing a review. That’s okay. Thank you for reading my books.

For two reasons, I don’t agree with Danielle Steele when she says: “A bad review is like baking a cake with all the best ingredients and having someone sit on it.”  One, because I get good reviews and I get bad reviews. Fortunately, I get more good than bad, and as I said earlier, I use the bad ones to grow. And second, if I were to bake a cake, one would likely be better off sitting on it, than eating it.

Teresa Burrell

Author of The Advocate Series

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